Mesh Vs. Leather Chairs: 7 MAJOR Differences (Read Before Buying!)


I fell in love with leather chairs from an early age. My father loved everything leather, and it was the choice upholstery in our home. I grew to appreciate its soft plush feel on your skin, its durability, and the lovely patina that develops after years of use.

Naturally, my first office chair was an off-brand office chair from a local box store. It couldn’t hold a candle to the quality pieces my father had in his office– it started flaking and peeling in no time.

Eager to do better on my next purchase, I doubled down on research. And for the first time, I paid attention to mesh office chairs. Previously, I had paid them no mind. I firmly believed mesh office chairs couldn’t compare to office chairs with leather upholstery. But my research was telling me otherwise – that mesh office chairs were great for your health and posture.

Like many other people, I was at a crossroads. I was caught up in the mesh vs leather chair dilemma and wasn’t quite sure how to proceed.

Dig in as I document what I learned about mesh and leather office chairs and how to pick the best choice for you.

Mesh and Leather Chairs Comparison Table

 Mesh Office Chair Leather Office Chair
BreathabilityHighly breathableNot very breathable
Durability8 to 10 yearsUp to 100 years
DesignsLimited designsLimitless designs
CostBudget-friendlyCan be costly
ErgonomicsPrimary considerationNot a core consideration
MaintenanceEasy maintenanceRequires special care to improve longevity
Sitting comfortTakes getting used for first usersPlush and comfortable from the get-go.

 

Leather Office Chairs: An Overview

Real leather is a natural fabric derived from raw animal hide. Grain leather is the most common, and each is uniquewith individual characteristics.

The grain is the pattern on the leather and is often finished by various methods to emphasize the different effects. The patterns in leather upholsterycome from healed scars, hair pore structure, neck growth marks, and differences in fiber density.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDW5dS-CiU4

But these hallmarks pale in comparison to the hard-wearing qualities of leather. With proper care and maintenance, a leather chair can last for decades. It can outlast any fabric on the market without losing its beauty, functionality, or appeal. Leather gets better with time and usage to develop a beautiful patina that pads its appeal further.

Thanks to modern tanning processes, leather chairs have a soft, glove-like feel and maintain suppleness during their lifetime. Today, the armrests and cushions on a leather seat have a softer, luxurious feel, unlike their predecessors.

Brand new, real leather furniture tends to develop wrinkles and creases during the first few weeks of use. This is normal and should be no cause for alarm. The wrinkles and creases are designed into the chairs to give them a soft, inviting look that gives leather upholstery its inherent appeal.

Mesh Office Chairs: An Overview

The image of a mesh-backed computer chair is a staple in every office across the globe. Mesh chairs lend the iconic, forward-thinking status to every office they happen to be in, thanks to their disruptive nature.

These sleek chairs were a late entrant into the upholstered furniture and revolutionized the office chair industry. In a relatively short timeframe, mesh office chairs have managed to unseat the popularity of both leather and fabric office chairs.

Once people got over their strange-looking design, they came to appreciate their ergonomics, sitting comfort, streamlining, and economy. Unlike the bulkier leather chairs, mesh chairs were highly adjustable, making them a better investment for offices looking to increase comfort and productivity.

Mesh chairs comprise a back made from knitted, woven, or laced fabric that feels soft against your back while providing adequate support for the back. Unlike the padded leather backing, the mesh molds into your back, giving you cradle-like support while improving your posture.

Besides cradling your body, mesh chairs are famed for their breathability. The pores in the mesh allow free air movement around your body to keep you cool and comfortable. The pores also keep sweat from accumulating on your body, making them more hygienic than the fabric variety.

Better still, mesh office chairs were crafted for the modern office environment where workers spend long hours at their desks. The ergonomic design, including the signature S-curve to mold the spine, allows for hours of seating comfort.

The popularity of the mesh office chairs coincided with the growing awareness about the health issues resulting from prolonged sitting at the office.

Mesh Vs. Leather Office Chairs

I use a checklist with 7 distinct categories when comparing mesh and leather office chairs. The categories are spread between sitting comfort, maintenance, ergonomics, cost, and more and always help me get the best value for my money.

Breathability

Air circulation is an important consideration when buying an office chair because it determines the sitting comfort. Ideally, you want a chair that keeps you cool and comfortable as you work.

Mesh Office Chairs

Matchless ventilation is the primary benefit of office chairs with mesh upholstery. The porous nature and design of the mesh material allow fresh air to flow through the chair’s backrest. The improved circulation significantly lowers body heat to leave you relaxed and comfortable as you work.

Additionally, the pores in the mesh allow sweat to fall through instead of accumulating on your skin. It allows enables the sweat to dry up faster, saving from embarrassing sweat stains and odors. As a result, mesh office chairs are popular in the southwest region of the US due to the hot and humid weather.

Leather Office Chairs

Leather chairs trail their mesh counterparts by a long mile when it comes to ventilation and breathability. While leather is somewhat breathable, it doesn’t transfer these benefits to the chairs. As a result, most leather chair users, especially those who sit for long stretches at a time, complain about getting hot and sweaty.

The waterproof nature of leather works against chair users in hot and humid areas. Since leather lacks sweat-wicking capacity, the sweat sticks pools around the backrest and seat pan. Worse still, leather chairs tend to retain odors, which can leave your workstation with the characteristic sweaty smell.

Sitting Comfort

When getting an office chair, the comfort level is a major consideration because it affects your ability to use the chair, which in turn affects your productivity.

Mesh Chairs

Initially, mesh chairs drew lots of controversy due to their perceived lack of comfort, but luckily, sane minds prevailed, introducing the world to one of the best office chairs.

Most office chairs feature adjustable and curved backrests to accommodate the natural curve of the spine. Adjustable seat pans and backrests help relieve pressure on the lower back, which helps combat fatigue and increase sitting comfort.

The porous surface of the mesh backrests is also a major selling point for mesh chairs. They improve air circulation to keep you cool during the hot and humid summer months.

Leather Office Chairs

Leather office chairs are renowned for their stylish and classy look rather than comfort, but modern design delivers on both comfort and supportive fronts. Most chairs come with thickly padded seats and lumbar regions for the much-needed lower back support. Lumbar support is critical for the typical office worker who sits for long hours.

Leather upholstery isn’t very breathable, and it could lower the sitting comfort during the hot and humid months of the year. These seats can get hot and accumulate lots of sweat since they don’t allow it to evaporate. Games call the sweat buildup around your butt and lower back a butt swamp.

Durability

Lifespan is a critical consideration when buying a chair for your office because it determines the ROI of your investment. Which of these two delivers the best value for your money?

Mesh Office Chairs

Compared to upholstered seats, mesh chairs feature a bare skeletal design, especially those with mesh seat pans. The woven fabric isn’t as hard-wearing as leather and gets battered and worn with continued usage. Furthermore, the fabric tends to lose its elasticity, compromising the chair’s ability to support your back.

With time, the plastic frame around the mesh bows under your weight, compromising the constituent parts until they break. Some parts are replaceable but lead to increased maintenance needs.

Leather office chairs

Real leather chairs are built to last and can serve you faithfully for years with proper care and maintenance. Since they’re made from tough hides, a leather upholstered chair can withstand repeated wear and tear while remaining in pristine condition for decades. Unlike their fabric counterparts, leather chairs aren’t susceptible to sweat rot or staining since they’re easy to clean.

Hygiene and Maintenance

Office chairs have different maintenance needs, and you must be aware of them before committing. Your ability to keep the chair in excellent working order determines its longevity.

Mesh chairs

Due to the lightweight nature of the mesh fabric and the integrated framework, quality mesh chairs are relatively maintenance-free. Depending on the chair, you can wash it or wipe it down with warm soapy water. Be sure to dry a mesh chair with a cloth or a hairdryer to protect against rust.

That said, cleaning a mesh chair can be a bit of a hassle. Particles and crumbs often get entangled into the layered mesh fabric. It takes more than a simple wipe down to dislodge the dirt and grime.

Leather Chairs

While hard-wearing, leather chairs need constant TLC to retain their pristine, beautiful looks. Leather is prone to scrapes and scratches, giving way to large holes in the chair’s upholstery if left unattended. This is especially common in the arm and backrest – areas that are in contact with your body.

Leather loses some elasticity as it ages and may begin to sag, causing the chair to lose some of its ergonomic properties. Users often complain that sagging leather upholstery can exacerbate piriformis syndrome and sciatica.

Chairs with leather upholstery require a wipe down with soap or disinfectant at least once a week. That helps to revitalize the leather and remove body odors lingering in its recesses.

Design

Having a great variety to choose from is crucial when shopping for an office chair. It lets you pick a chair that suits your style, décor, and body type.

Mesh Office Chair Designs

Mesh chairs trail their upholstered cousins in the design department because they have a limited appearance and styling appearance. The mesh fabric is commonly available in black and grey colors. While resplendent, these colors don’t quite hold up in contemporary office spaces that lean towards colorful décor.

Leather Office chair Designs

Since leather is used as upholstery and can be dyed into different colors, leather office chairs come in all shapes, designs, and colors. You have a multitude of designs to pick from when you need to equip a contemporary office.

However, buying leather office chairs is a tricky undertaking because of the variety of leather fabrics. Leather upholstery falls into two major categories – real and faux leather. Naturally, artificial leather is more affordable but has a shorter lifespan.

On the flip side, genuine leather has an extended lifespan and price tag to match. Faux leather tends to flake and peel with continued usage,lowering the chair’s beauty and appeal.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics are an important consideration when buying an office chair because they influence your sitting comfort and productivity. An ergonomic chair also helps to safeguard your health and wellbeing.

Mesh

At first, the skeletal structure of a mesh office chair often camouflages the amount of engineering that goes into creating them. These chairs are specially engineered to meet the needs of the modern office worker.

As a result, they are jam-packed with ergonomic features to safeguard your health and comfort. The most prominent feature is the curved backrest that mirrors the natural curve of your spine. The curve enables the chair to provide critical lumbar support to eliminate the crippling lower back pains common among office workers.

High-back mesh chairs come with a headrest and neck support to eliminate the strain of sitting at your desk for aprolonged period while using a computer.

Adjustable seat pans, seat height, and armrests are standard features in most high-end mesh office chairs. These features allow you to customize the chair’s setting to fit your specific needs. Adjustable height is crucial because it keeps your arms at the same level as your desk to safeguard against carpal tunnel syndrome.

Leather Office Chairs

Unlike mesh chairs, leather office chairs come with thickly padded armrests, seats, and backrests for your sitting comfort. Modern chairs come with superb ergonomic features to improve comfort and productivity.

High and adjustable backrests, adjustable seat pans, and armrests are standard features in high-end leather chairs.

The leather upholstery isn’t a significant factor in determining the amount of back support an office chair provides. The chair design is more important as the leather only covers the padded, contoured frame. While the tension on a leather chair remains the same, it has much to do with the chair’s frame, not the type of upholstery.

Pricing

Affordability is a crucial consideration for most people when shopping for an office chair online. While necessary, it shouldn’t be the primary deciding factor when furnishing your office.

Leather

Since genuine leather is a natural upholstery that requires lengthy processing, it’s carriers a hefty price. Natural leather is only used in high-end chairs that retail between $1,000 and $3,000.You can get an office chair at this price range that will serve you for decades with proper care and maintenance.

Budget shoppers can have their pick from a wide range of budget-friendly faux leather office chairs without breaking the bank. High-end faux leather upholstery has genuine leather’s distinct look and feel and can last up to five years. There’s a limitless variety of artificial leather office chairs to pick from with pricing points as low as $100.

Mesh

Office chairs with mesh upholstery are much more forgiving than leather ones in terms of pricing. But that’s because the mesh isn’t the primary factor influencing the price.

Specs and technology are the main factors driving the cost of mesh office chairs. These chairs fall on both ends of the pricing spectrum, with the best models costing several thousand dollars. Herman Miller and Steelcase are popular high-end mesh chairs renowned for their superb engineering and ergonomic features.

Pros & Cons of Mesh Chairs

Mesh chairs were a disruptive force in the office chair industry and have helped steer office chair designs in the right direction. They improved on the shortcomings of the upholstered office chairs, pushing manufacturers to up their game. Despite carrying some incredible benefits, these chairs do have some drawbacks. Let’s examine both the wins and setbacks to help you get the perfect office chair.

Mesh Chair Pros

  • Superior sitting comfort:Mesh fabric office chairs are designed forlengthy sitting. You can sit for long hours without discomfort and fatigue.
  • Improve productivity: The porous nature of the mesh material keeps you relaxed and comfortable so that you can work without interruptions;
  • Reduce injury: Mesh fabric office chairs are designed to improve your sitting posture and prevent back pain due to excellent lumbar support.
  • Prevents carpal tunnel: Mesh fabric chairs are height adjustable to keep the chair at the same level as your desk. It helps to reduce wrist strain and prevent carpal tunnel.
  • Budget-friendly: Quality office chairs with mesh upholstery carry an affordable price tag, while the luxury models cost$1,000+.
  • Lightweight:The minimalistic design of mesh-fabric office chairs makes them ultralightweight and easy to move around.
  • Easy maintenance:Chairs with mesh upholstery are easy to clean and don’t require special cleaning agents.

Mesh Chair Cons

  • Lesser comfort: Mesh chairs are designed to conform to your body’s contour to deliver flexible back support but don’t prioritize sitting comfort. They may be great for your posture, but they aren’t as comfortable as their upholstered leather cousins
  • Shorter lifespan: High-end mesh chairs have a lifespan of 8 years compared to decades for leather chairs. The soft mesh degrades, stretches, and sinks overtime, causing the frame to press against your legs.
  • Mesh can be abrasive: The mesh on some chairs can be abrasive to the skin resulting in cuts and scrapes. It can also ruin your clothing.

Pros & Cons of Leather Chairs

Leather Chair Pros

Leather office chairs have an executive feel, lending a touch of class and elegance to the room. Quality leather chairs come with a thickly padded and contoured backrest for enhanced lumbar support. Office chairs with leather upholstery have come a long way since mesh chairs made their debut.

  • Luxury and prestige:An office furnished with leather office oozes class and style. Leather chairs project a powerful image style and comfort. Leather office chairs are a staple in high-powered boardrooms where companies project their prestigious status to clients and prospects. Quality leather chairs are a worthy investment with excellent ROI in the corporate environment.
  • Engineered for comfort: Leather chairs are designed with your comfort in mind, and they’re the most comfortable office out there. Leather chairs are often well padded to let you sink into them as you sit and enjoy their plushness. These chairs will stay cool in an airconditioned room and retain some of your body heat to keep you warm in winter.
  • Easy maintenance: Leather is a hard-wearing material that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance. It’s water and stain-resistant, so you can keep it clean with a simple wipe down. You can easily brush off or vacuum any food or drink spilled on the surface. Besides cleaning with soap and water, you can use leather conditioning products to extend its lifespan and maintain its sheen.
  • Long-lasting: Real leather office chairs will outlast all other upholstery fabric to serve you for decades with proper care and maintenance. Best of all, leather upholstery mellows with age, gaining a beautiful patina that adds to its beauty and appeal. Dropping a good chunk of change on the finest leather chair is a worthwhile investment.

Leather Chair Cons

  • Costly: Real leather office chairs are some of the most expensive options on the market. Although they’re worth every penny, the price range puts them out of reach for the average buyer. Most people often resort to getting overpriced faux leather office chairs that don’t deliver the rich, luxurious feel or last as long.
  • It’s difficult to identify genuine leather: Most people can’t readily tell between genuine and faux leather. Most of the chairs marketed as genuine leather are often imitations, and most find out after spending their hard-earned money. It takes a seasoned eye to tell the difference between genuine and imitation leather.
  • It’s susceptible to damage: Leather chairs are prone to scrapes and scratches that can ruin their appearance and appeal. They can’t withstand rough handling and require extra caution when moving as sharp edges can ruin the upholstery.
  • Prone to cracking: Real leather tends to crack with age if not properly cared for or maintained. Leather requires frequent conditioning to keep it supple and prevent drying off, especially in hot climates.

Which is the Best Option? Mesh or Leather Office Chair?

It’s a tough call deciding between a mesh or leather office chair because both options have so much to offer. But it all boils down to your specific needs.

Mesh chairs are the best option if your job call for you to sit for long stretches at a time – your health will be much better for it. The mesh fabric molds and adapts to your body to provide the support you need to keep a proper posture. A mesh chair will help you avoid health problems that could ruin your quality of life.

Leather office chairs are more of a brand statement. They offer both style and comfort while speaking volumes about your refined tastes. They’re ideal if you prefer sitting on a lavishly padded chair that doesn’t sacrifice ergonomics.

Mesh Vs Leather Office Chair FAQs

Do leather office chairs hold their value?

Leather office chairs will hold their value for decades with proper care and maintenance. A simple wipe down and an occasional polish with genuine leather care products keep the leather upholstery soft and supple for decades.

How long does real leather last?

Real leather can last up to 100 years with proper care and maintenance. Unlike faux leather, real leather isn’t prone to peeling or flaking and can withstand heavy usage for years if well maintained.

What is the lifespan of a Mesh Chair?

High-end mesh office chairs have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years but can last even more with proper care and maintenance. Some brands offer replacement parts to help you repair and replace sagging mesh components.

Can I use a mesh office chair with a bad back?

Mesh chairs are ideal for people grappling with back problems. They’re designed to deliver exceptional support to the uses and prevent back problems.

Are mesh office chairs comfortable?

Mesh chairs are indeed comfortable to sit on, especially if you sit for long hours. They might take some getting used to at first, but once the chair adapts to your body, you’re guaranteed sitting comfort.

Jelica Klapan

Full-time blogger and copywriter. Outside of work, I like to venture on California's finest hiking trails with my kids and our golden retriever Buddy. Doesn't get better than that!

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